In 2018, two partners and taxi drivers from Terrassa (Barcelona) felt that they should change their business. Joan Bartra, 45, and Joel Cuscó, 42, had started together in the real estate world and the 2008 crisis brought them down. Then they switched to the taxi, which was a good deal until boredom and the arrival of Uber made them accelerate their search for alternatives. “The arrival of Uber makes you be more attentive, and also with 40 years you did not want to be until 65 in the taxi,” says Bartra.
At Amazon they investigated for months which products worked well in the US and were not in Europe. They opted for a foam barrier for beds for children from two years old and created a brand called Banbaloo. They contacted a Chinese supplier, adapted the product, created a website, and in January 2019 they landed on Amazon. Now, two and a half years later, they have sold their creation “for more than one million euros” to Wait, a new Spanish company that buys sellers on Amazon to make them up and take them to another level. Yaba does not want to reveal the exact figure of the agreement.
His case is not unique. In Spain there are 150 companies that sold more than one million euros in 2020 on Amazon, according to company data. Although Banbaloo does not disclose their business figures either, in 2020 they reached 100,000 euros per month, so it is likely that they belong to that group. But it is a very unknown activity: “People do not see it as a powerful business and it is something very serious,” says Cuscó. “When you said you were selling products on Amazon, it seemed like it was to earn a bonus. They don’t give you a conversation because they don’t understand it or give it the importance it has, “he adds.
And above all, the process illustrates how technology has dramatically changed the way in which a business can be created: two computers, some English and a lot of dedication without leaving home are enough. “Before, companies did it, now private individuals do it,” says Sergi de Pablos, chief technology officer and co-founder of Yaba.
Cuscó first heard of selling on Amazon in mid-2018 at an annual meal from a group of friends. One had researched how selling on Amazon worked, had taken a course in English, and had been told the details. But he had never started it. Cuscó came home and started watching YouTube videos. He had time because the taxi was driven by two employees: a single vehicle fed four families.
Cuscó has no academic training in economics. “In second year of BUP I started selling beers at concerts,” he says. But YouTube was there to help. They bought two courses from two channels of experts in digital sales, Libertad Virtual and Hermo Benito, for just over 1,500 euros in total, at the current price. They also acquired the Jungle Scout program, which estimates product sales on Amazon in different countries. With all that, they looked for what products were already working in the US and were not yet in Europe. “We refined up to about 20 options, but we were left with a foam barrier for babies,” says Cuscó. “Find a product, a goal. It is the most important job ”, adds Bartra.
When it was time to see who could make that, they chose China. AliBaba It is a platform to buy wholesale in the Asian giant and there, in an internal chat, they began to look for foam manufacturers. They found an acceptable one, asked for a sample, and Bartra and Cuscó slept for a week with barriers on their beds. It worked. They created an Instagram account to promote it, but the key was to buy advertising on Amazon for the keywords: “Barrier bed.” The offer then was wood and metal. The foam could have a gap, placed between the mattress and the bottom sheet. And he did.
Professional photos and copywriting are also essential. “The client looks for ‘child bed barriers’ and you came out next to the wooden and metal ones,” says Bartra. “We had a softer product, which does not hurt you, that you can take it with you and you go around it to see where you can take a sale from wood and metal. Then as the days go by, you see that you improve your positions ”, he explains.
The road to success was already established, but there was still a long way to go: the offer had to be diversified. Today Banbaloo has about 30 products: various barriers, cushions, blankets. They no longer have just one best seller. As the range expanded, it was necessary to ensure that success did not leave Amazon warehouses out of inventory. When the order did not arrive from China and the stocks were exhausted, they raised the price euro to euro. But sales kept going up. Thus, through a rebound, they detected that the margin could grow.
When the turnover reached 100,000 euros per month, they called them from Amazon in case they wanted to pay a coach (coach) who will accompany them in the new challenges. They declined the offer.
And now? “We will mount another one,” says Bartra. Or more than one, according to Cuscó. “I already know the keys to play. There is a lot of niche, to do business for ten more years. Although you have to know how to do it, and if you know more because you’ve been there for three years, then you have an advantage ”, he adds.
The proof that this business has a future is that companies like Yaba have emerged to take over from entrepreneurs like Banbaloo, who this time did not want to grow by hiring people. “In the decision to sell you put a lot of things,” says Bartra. “You must be aware of your ceiling and we have been seeing for a while that our resources and knowledge were at the limit and we needed something. Either you hired or you stagnant. The day to day drowned you and did not let you think about the good of the company. We did not want to play financially again as we did with the real estate company, ”explains Bartra.
Yaba’s bet is for now Amazon, but deep down there is the conviction that digital commerce still has a lot to explore and grow. “We have people who are experts in advertising, logistics, a large warehouse,” says De Pablos. “So far we have bought five companies,” he adds. But the plan is to keep growing.
“It is a risk to depend only on Amazon now, but we believe that it will not change much in the coming years or raise rates, because if sellers are no longer profitable, they leave,” says De Pablos. Amazon is voracious and huge, but clothing, DIY, sports or electronics have increasingly powerful and consolidated platforms. A growing range of options opens up.
Five years ago reaching Amazon with any product was a huge advantage, but there is still room. “In 2016 Amazon was the gold rush: what product do I have in my life that is not on Amazon”, says De Pablos. “And today you can be billing millions with that product just for having arrived first and having triple the reviews and many more sales than the second,” he adds.